The Sex Pistols' third single was the first that managed to avoid getting banned in the U.K., and it was their only uncontested number one hit. It's also the song that makes plain the elephant in the room when it comes to The Sex Pistols: for all of Malcolm McLaren's hype and Jamie Reid's purposefully shocking graphics, The Sex Pistols were really a pop band at heart. Honestly, give "Pretty Vacant" a glossy Phil Wainman production to go with its chanting, shout-along chorus and instantly catchy opening guitar riff, and you would have a single by the Sweet. Or even (gasp) the Bay City Rollers! This is not a bad thing at all; "Pretty Vacant" has stood up better than most of The Sex Pistols' singles, which mostly sound kind of dated and strained with a few decades' hindsight, plus it puts the lie to McLaren's post-Pistols self-mythologizing -- they were, at heart, just another pop band, and a pretty good one at that.